Friday, 31 October 2008

Amateur Catholic - Back up and Running

Well it is official, Amateur Catholic is back up and running. As the site states:

The B-Team Info

This is the home of the Amateur Catholic® bloggers - or as we like to refer to ourselves, the B-team. We don't write books or do speaking tours. In fact, we barely do our jobs. That's not to say we're unambitious though... You see, this coalition is just the second phase our blogoshpere conquest. We suppose you could think of us as amateur crusaders too.


Membership will not bring you any money, perks, notoriety, or prestige - but you will get the privilege of proudly displaying the B-team badge on your blog! Lucky you, huh?

If you are hosting a conference, parish function, or some other event and can not afford the exorbitant fees typically associated with a Professional Catholic®, please contact one of our members. We like to hear ourselves talk just as much as the Professional Catholics® do, we just don't charge you for it. But hey give us a meal, free beer, and a designated driver, and we'll speak about breaking the Da Vinci Code or anything else you might care to hear about.

AMATEUR CATHOLIC
We don't write books or do speaking tours.
In fact, we barely do our jobs.
-We're the B-Team of Catholic Bloggers-

So dro
p by and consider joining, it's another great way to promote your blog in the Catholic blogsphere.


The Hunger Games by: Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games
Books 1
Suzanne Collins

Scholastic Press

ISBN 9780439023481

The 74th Annual Hunger Games are soon to begin. The Hunger Games are a fight to the death. In
the new country of Panem, in the ruins of North America, each year as punishment for a rebellion and as a control mechanism, the Capitol forces each of the 12 provinces to draw names of a male and female tribute. The tributes are drawn from all people between the ages of 12 and 18. They receive training, are assessed by the game masters and then the betting begins. The games will be televised and are required viewing for the whole nation.

The draws are not exactly even though. You can choose to enter your name extra times, for yourself and for family members to receive a terse, a grain and oil supplement from the government. Thus enters our heroine Katniss Everdeen. She is entered this year 20 times as she is 16 and taken t
he terse every year, for herself, her sister and her mother. Her close friend Gale has his name in 42 times, but this is the last year he is eligible. Then Katniss has the worst fear hit - her younger sister Prim (short for Primrose) is drawn with her 1st and only ballot. Katniss then does the unthinkable; she volunteers to take Prim's place.

Katniss Everdeen knows that she has at least some chance of survival in the games. She has been secretly hunting in the woods and feeding her family since her father died years earlier. She hunts and gathers what she can with her friend and hunting partner Gale, in the woods beyond the fenced border of District 12. Yet even so, most believe she has just given up her life for her sisters.

Katniss and Peeta Mellark are the tributes from District 12 for the 74th annual hunger games. As they travel to the capitol they have two mentors - Haymitch Abernathy the only surviving Hunger Games winner from the district and Effie Trinket the Capitol's representative in the district. They will each in their own way try to help them to survive both the Capitol, to win favor with the citizens who can sponsor them in the games, and then the games themselves.

This book is very well written, the scenes sharp and crisp, the world believable and detailed. The characters become real as you read. You reach the end and are left hungry for more, which is what you will get as this is book one in a trilogy. The only drawback in my opinion is the lack of a map. I keep hoping for a map of Panem, with the 12 districts, the mysterious destroyed 13th district and the wilderness area's between them. Maybe it is just a guy thing, but I wanted a map. In this book Twenty-four are forced to enter the game zone but only the winner survives. You get a sample online. You can read chapter 1 online but it will only whet your appetite for more. There is also a video trailer for the book and a different one here. This is a great Sci-fi book and would make an excellent movie.

(First Published in Imprint 2008-10-31.)

Books by Suzanne Collins:
The Hunger Games trilogy:
The Hunger Games (2008)
Catching Fire (2009)
Mockingjay (2010)

The Underland Chronicles:
Gregor the Overlander (2003)
Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane (2004)
Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods (2005)
Gregor and the Marks of Secret (2006)
Gregor and the Code of Claw (2007)

Other books:
Fire Proof: Shelby Woo #11 (1999)
When Charlie McButton Lost Power (2005)

Suzanne Collins Visual Bibliography

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Who Am I? - Who I Am!

A Post from Eric Scheske over at The Daily Eudemon got me thinking again about the whole question of 'who I am'. I constantly struggle with the question of Who I am? One thing I do, to help me find out is journal. Usually at the beginning of each term - so about 3 times a year. I journal based on questions from a Science Fiction show called Crusade which was a spin off of Babylon 5. Each episode of Crusade began with a series of questions being asked by the narrator to the Captain. They were:

Why are you?
What do you want?
Who do you trust?
Who do you serve?
Where are you going?

I find that as I get older, I really like lists. I have quite a few of them that I use in various forms and means. The daily goals I have been using as guidelines for living are:

1. To get enough sleep.
2. To eat right & exercise daily.
3. To refuse to be a perfectionist.
4. To carefully control finances.
5. To ask for help when needed.
6. To pray and read the Bible daily.
7. To not pressure self into pla
nning entire life today.

And then there are principles to live by, which I got from a book by Dr. James MacDonald, which are as follows:
Eight Principles to Live Your Life by:

1. I will do all things as unto the lord.
2. I will live in the light of the judgment seat of Christ.
3. I will consider my weaker brother in all I do.
4. I will do nothing unless I'm sure that it's right to do.
5. I will do all things to the glory of my God.
6. I will avoid what may appear wrong even if I know it's not.
7. I will abstain from thi
ngs that could enslave me.
8. I will seek always to do what I believe Jesus would do.
With these three sets of guiding questions or goals, I have been fairly happy with my progress so far. But I still can not answer the question of who I am. My goals are to be a good man, a good husband and a good father. I think the activities listed above - the journaling, staying healthy in body, mind and spirit - will help those goals. I want to be a better friend to the people in my life.

The Closes I have come is a poem I published a few year back found here called "poetry in being". Yet If I had to answer I would say:
I am a Roman Catholic
I am a husband
I am a father
I am a son
I am a brother
I am a friend
I am a bibliophile
I am a writer

Some of my favorite quotes about identity and being are:

"Then you're trapped in your lovely nest, and the things you used to own, now they own you."
Chuck Palahniuk - Fight Club

“Anything that doesn’t lead us to that – to better know and serve God – is a waste of time.”
-Charles de Foucauld

"There is no certainty, only opportunity"
-V for Vendetta

"It is in changing that things find purpose."
Heraclitus

"Trouble is a part of life, and if you don't share it, you don't give the person who loves you a chance to love you enough."
Anonymous

"It's Very Important to understand the difference between dreams and goals. Dreams are things we wish for--things you enjoy thinking about but don't really know when they'll happen. Goals, on the other hand, are specific things you have decided you need to accomplish within a clearly defined period of time."
Bill Phillips

"It is when things go wrong, when the good things do not happen, when our prayers seem to have been lost, that God is most present. We do not need the sheltering wings when things go smoothly. We are closest to God in the darkness, stumbling along blindly."
Madeleine L'Engle

"Mere change is not growth. Growth is the synthesis of change and continuity, and where there is no continuity there is no growth."
C.S. Lewis

"There is nothing so constant as change. Meet it. Embrace it. Enjoy it. Learn from it.
The one thing you can be absolutely sure of in your life is change. It’s the only thing that never changes. The law of nature is that you either grow or you die; there’s no in-between. So, what have you chosen so far? Are you growing in every area of your life? Hey, it’s not enough to be growing and looking great just because you work out. That’s only a small part of your life. What about your emotions, spiritual life, family, friends, career, hobbies? Are they growing as your body does? Become a complete person and not an in-shape and great-looking version of an incomplete person. There’s way more to life than just working out. Go with the flow and embrace changes in all areas of your life. The change will do you good."
Robert Wolff, PH.D. Bodybuilding 101

"To strengthen the mind you must harden the muscles."
Montaigne

"Now -- here is my secret:
I tell it to you with an openness of heart I doubt I shall ever achieve again, so I pray that you are in a quiet room as you hear these words. My secret is that I need God - that I am sick and can no longer make it alone. I need God to help me give, because I no longer seem capable of giving; to help me to be kind, as I no longer seem capable of kindness; to help me love, as I seem beyond able to love."
Douglas Coupland - Life After God

"May I never be complete. May I never be content. May I never be perfect. Deliver me, Tyler, from being perfect and complete."
Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club, (As the world sees these things.)

"You're not your job. You're not how much money you have in the bank. You're not the car you drive. You're not the contents of your wallet."
Fight Club - The Movie

"Either Get busy living or get busy dieing!"
Andy - The Shawshank Redemption

"What am I living for? What am I dieing for?"
Unknown

"All men die, not all men really live!"
William Wallace - Braveheart

"There is no normal life, just life so get busy living it!"
Unknown

Some of this post comes from New Years Resolutions 2006. I also wrote to essays on this topic in university the first The Journey of a Quester! - An Essay / Spiritual Biography and the second Mad Celtic Warrior, Poet and Priest! - An Essay.
Yet even after all of that the question remains, of "Who am I?"

(As an addendum Jeff Vehige has a great post on Rule of Life - Some Examples, that is really worth checking out.)



Other Articles Examining Who I Am:
Mad Celtic Warrior, Poet and Priest! - An Essay - 2003
The Journey of a Quester! - An Essay / Spiritual Biography 2004
New Year's 2006
Who Am I? Who Am I? -2008
Confessions of a Bibliophile #5 - How I Became a Bibliophile, From Dyslexic to Addict - 2009
New Year's Goals 2010
Steven R. McEvoy Interview - 2012
2014 My Goals

Who I Am - 2014

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Haunted Hike Elliot's Park Book 2 - Patrick Carman

Haunted Hike
Elliot's Park Book #2

Patrick Carman

Jim Madsen (Illustrated)
Orchard Books

ISBN 9780545019316

This is the second book in the wonderful world of Elliot's Park, based on Pioneer Park in Walla Walla, Washington. Written by award winning author Patrick Carman, these tales were originally
created by Patrick for his daughter while they visited the real park. There is a great cast of characters including Chip the larger than average squirrel with a chipped front tooth, Crash the only flying squirrel in the park, Elliot the book worm with glasses who loves collared shirts, wide ties and solving problems and many many others. Even Mister Nibbles from the first book Saving Mister Nibbles makes an appearance. The book has a cast of characters in the back of the key players from the whole series.

In this story Daisy, Autumn and Lefty are three young squirrel scouts who are on a haunted hike through the park at night to Camp Cannon. Along the way they encounter other inhabitants of the part and what Daisy believes is a ghost. She is the first to see it, but she won't be the last. They must travel from the Giant Pines, to the Field House, over Rollie Hill, around the Fishing Hole, then skirt the South Pond and finally set up Camp if they are not frightened off. For it is not called the haunted Hike for naught.

Carman has created a wonderful world for young readers. These books aimed at a younger audience than his other works, will captivate children of all ages. The artwork by Madsen is excellent. And as an added bonus there are exercises at the end of the book, to create fun for a family or class. In this book they include:
o Elliot's Park Ghost Decoration Craft
o How to Make the Shadow of Chip Frankensquirrel
o Ranger Canyon's Scavenger Hunt
The book concludes with a preview chapter of the next book The Walnut Cup. Pick up this book either for this Halloween season or just as a fun book for the family.

Other of Patrick Carman Books:

The Dark Hills Divide - The Land of Elyon Book 1
Beyond the Valley of Thorns - The Land of Elyon Book 2

The Tenth City - The Land of Elyon Book 3
Into The Mist - The Land of Elyon Prequel
Stargazer - The Land of Elyon Book 4

The House of Power - Atherton Book 1
Rivers of Fire - Atherton, Book 2
The Dark Planet - Atherron Book 3

Saving Mr Nibbles
- Elliot's Park Book 1
Haunted Hike - Elliot's Park Book 2
The Walnut Cup - Elliot's Park Book 3
A Windy Tale - Elliot's Park Book 4

Skeleton Creek - Skeleton Creek Book 1 - A Prereview.
Ghost in the Machine - Skeleton Creek Book 2

Crossbones - Skeleton Creek Book 3
The Raven - Skeleton Creek Book 4

The Black Circle
- 39 Clues Book 5


Trackers #1

Thirteen Days to Midnight

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Asking for help redux.

Asking for help. Redux.

I was told my original request was not clear. We need help to make ends meet, specifically rent that is due this week.
I was not asking for help to keep the blog going. I was asking for help to meet our needs, diapers, formula, gas, groceries ...

I have always had a hard time asking for and accepting help. I know it is a personal character defect and have been working on it. I once had a friend accuse me of robbing others of the blessing of giving, because I would not ask for he
lp to go on a retreat even though over the few years prior to that I had sponsored others going.

Well It is time to ask for help again. As many of you know I was off work for 30 months with an injury, that took place at work. I am thankful that I have retrained and am now employed fulltime. You can read my three part series called From Injury Back to Work Again. However we are still feeling the financial stress that time off work caused, and the emotional stress the financial causes. Therefore much as Kathy Shaidle started a drive for help 18 months ago for me (see here, here and here). But I am here again asking for some help.

The time off work was both a blessing and a trial. It was hard because of the stresses of the injury and dealing with the pain. It was a blessing because I was able to attend mass almost every day, I was able to pray the whole rosary each day. But as the time went from months to years spiritually it became very tiring. Spiritually and emotionally it became a desert. We also had our first two children during my time off work, which added both blessings and greater financial stress.

We have 2 children 2 and under and my wife is now back to work evenings and weekends. But it will take a while for us to fully recover from my time off work. So if you can see your way to help support us make ends meet at this time, it would really help till we get caught up. We would really appreciate it. So thank you in advance. You can use the PayPal Donate Button on the sidebar. I have done just about everything I can, I have sold my entire DVD library, and almost three quarters of my books. Asking for help is our last option.


Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Rivers Of Fire by Patrick Carman The Second Book Of Atherton

Rivers Of Fire:
The Second Book Of Atherton

Patrick Carman
Little, Brown and Company

ISBN 9780316166720


Patrick Carman is quick becoming one of my favorite contemporary children's authors. This is the second book of Atherton but the first book outside his
Elyon series that I have read. In this book the Land of Atherton was once three levels - the highlands, home of the ruling class, the flatlands below where strange creatures called cleaners live, and the table top with the three villages that provide the food for both it and the highlands. These three have been collapsing in upon themselves. As this world reshapes itself, the social structure is changing and the threats are not just from the changing landscapes. New creatures have been unleashed from the flatlands unto the rest of Atherton.

Edgar, Samuel and Isabel are three young people drawn into an adventure they never expected. Each feels they have a role to play in trying to save this world. Each must attempt tasks that they never imagined. Yet this world was also designed and built by man, by Dr. Maximus Harding to be precise, and it was designed to change. But will the transformation take place as planned? Will the wild creatures called the cleaners be defeated? Read the book to find out. This is another great book by Patrick Carman.


Other of Patrick Carman Books:

The Dark Hills Divide - The Land of Elyon Book 1
Beyond the Valley of Thorns - The Land of Elyon Book 2

The Tenth City - The Land of Elyon Book 3
Into The Mist - The Land of Elyon Prequel
Stargazer - The Land of Elyon Book 4

The House of Power - Atherton Book 1
Rivers of Fire - Atherton, Book 2
The Dark Planet - Atherron Book 3

Saving Mr Nibbles
- Elliot's Park Book 1
Haunted Hike - Elliot's Park Book 2
The Walnut Cup - Elliot's Park Book 3
A Windy Tale - Elliot's Park Book 4

Skeleton Creek - Skeleton Creek Book 1 - A Prereview.
Ghost in the Machine - Skeleton Creek Book 2

Crossbones - Skeleton Creek Book 3
The Raven - Skeleton Creek Book 4

The Black Circle
- 39 Clues Book 5


Trackers #1

Thirteen Days to Midnight

Sunday, 12 October 2008

More books that will change your life.

More books that will change your life.

One of the first pieces I published in Imprint back in 2005 was called Books That Will Change Your Life. This piece was a quick and dirty summary of a few books I had read or reread that I thought highly enough of to promote extensively. This post is one of the most popular on my blog. Lately I had been thinking of how many hits I get with those search words "books change your life" and have been pondering what books would I list now. As I was reflecting on that, a friend and fellow Imprinter Rob Blom, had a reques
t of me on facebook: "I also have a request, and that is a book/novel/literary piece recommendation you've greatly enjoyed. It can be anything from fiction, to archaic Jesuit writings, to Bodhisattva anecdotes to fakir teachings." So here without further ado is a list of more books that will change your life. Well sort of - some of the books have stayed on the list, either themselves or as part of a series.

Tales of a Magic Monastery
Theophane the Monk
Crossroad: 1998
ISBN: 0824500857

These short snippets remind us to seek the divine in everyday life. They remind us to look outside ourselves, while always trying to im
prove ourselves. They are fun, funny, humorous and yet probe deeply into both the meaning of human existence, and the means to attain sanctification. I can pick up this book any day and flip to any story and be challenged.

Way of the Peaceful Warrior
Dan Millman
HJ Kramer: 2006 (Revised Edition)
ISBN: 9781932073201


For many years Millman's books have been among my favorites. This is a first in a Trilogy that includes Sacred Journey of the Peaceful Warrior and The Journey of Socrates. Millman himself went though an incredible story, from injury back to Olympic athlete and from those events has created a series of books to help bring out the best in other people. Any of Millman's books are great tools for personal growth.

God Is Not Reasonable:
and other tales of Mother Macrina
Irma Zaleski
New Seeds
ISBN: 1590303032
March 2006

This is an updated and expanded edition of the great book Mother Macrina that was published by Novalis press in 2000. This version has nearly twice as many stories and bits of wisdom to pass on to the earnest reader. About the original edition I wrote: "This is the first of Zale
ski's books that I found. It is a collection of penses thoughts and meditations from a woman who will remind you of the desert mothers of old." I also wrote a profile of all of Zaleski's books here.

God Rides a Yamaha
Kathy Shaidle
Northstone
ISBN 1896836240

Kathie Shaidle is a Canadian treasure. This book will grab your heart while you travel with her in her illness. In this collection is a series of columns that were written after she was diagnosed with lupus. Click here for the full review or here for an author profile.

Interior Freedom
Father Jacques Philippe

Scepter
ISBN 9781594170522

This is the third book by Father Jacques Philippe that I have read, and already I wish there were more than 4 available in English. I am certain he will go down in history as one of the spiritual masters like Brother Lawrence, C.S. Lewis and others. This book is written in such simple and accessible language, yet with a message so profound any believer could grow from encountering it.

Fr. Philippe's main message is that freedom, true freedom, comes from God as the source. And that interior peace sought by so many people in so many ways, only truly comes from learning to be content in where God has us. Yet by learning to trust in God despite external circumstances and situations beyond our control, we can find that oft-sought-after peace. He will show you how to appreciate what you can control, which is your response to what life brings your way. For the full review click here and for links to reviews of his other books.

Bench Press
Sven Lindqvist
Translated Sarah Death
Granta Publications
ISBN: 1862075727

This book begins with a quote from Marcus Aurelius; "Does transformation frighten you? Yet what can happen without transformation? Can you yourself take a hot bath without the wood being transformed, can you nourish yourself without the food being transformed? Do you not then see that your own transformation is equally necessary?", and this book will change you. As I read it, my own childhood dreams and aspirations, long put away, were awakened. This book is broken up into 85 penses or thoughts. Some are the personal reflections of the author, some of history, and tidbits of information fun and bizarre, and a few are visions that Sven has along his journey. It is also the first in a trilogy. The last chapters of the first two are the first chapter of the next. They are Desert Divers , a journey into the desert to see childhood dreams, and Exterminate All the Brutes, a history of genocides in Africa committed by Europeans and leading up to the great genocide of the Nazi reign. For full review click here.

Jacob The Baker
Noah benShea
Ballantine Books: 1990
ISBN: 034536662X

This book, the first in a trilogy, is a great collection of stories, thoughts, penses and ideas. It is a book in the great Jewish wisdom tradition. Jacob is a baker, and each day on his way to the bakery after his prayers he thinks and reflects on God and life. While the ovens are warming up, he jots down his thoughts. One day by accident, one of his scraps of thoughts gets baked into a loaf of bread. The lady who finds it is overwhelmed by its insight and wisdom. She asked the owner of the bakery if Jacob will share more of his ideas by baking one in each of some rolls for a dinner party for her. Reluctantly, Jacob agrees and his peaceful life is shattered.

Soon Jacob has no time for himself. When he goes home people are awaiting him; in the morning they are on the path to work; and every day they are in the bakery, asking him questions, seeking advice and wisdom. They soon desire to make Jacob their Tzadik, their wise man. These stories will warm your heart, and open your eyes to the divine in yourself and in others. It will teach you to live with love and grace and mercy towards others. Separate reviews Jacob the Baker, Jacob's Journey and Jacob's Ladder.

Ishmael
Daniel Quinn
Bantam: 1992
ISBN: 0553375407

Much like the One Book, One Community for Waterloo for 2005, Hominids by Robert J. Sawyer, this book looks at the history of humankind on this planet and all we have done to it. It will challenge the prevailing belief that more and bigger is better. The book begins with an ad in the paper "TEACHER seeks pupil. Must have earnest desire to save the world. Apply in Person." In the book, the gorilla Ishmael has learned to communicate through thought with humans. He also has a message that we cannot afford not to hear. The book focuses around a series of conversations between Ishmael and his student. It presents a different interpretation of how we went from being a hunter-gatherer society to an agrarian one, and also how that system is bound to fail. For me the most haunting thing in the book is two quotes. Early on we see a poster that states: "WITH MAN GONE, WILL THERE BE HOPE FOR GORILLA?" p.9 and much later, on the back of the first poster, "WITH GORILLA GONE, WILL THERE BE HOPE FOR MAN?" p.263. This is a great read especially for a sunny summer afternoon, or two. This is also the first in a trilogy. The rest of the books are: My Ishmael, The Story of B and a collect of short stories called Tales of Adam.

As You Think
James Allan
New World Library: 1998
ISBN: 1577310748

In 1904 a little book was written called As a Man Thinketh. This book is a rewriting of that classic by the grandson of the original author. It is not just a self-help book, a self-empowerment, but a truth that will grip your heart. Each of us has tracks that we play in our minds, things spoken over us in our youth, by parents, teachers, coaches and friends. We have believed these things and lived by them. This book reminds us that what we believe in our minds and hearts will live out in our flesh. It will help us understand that all we achieve or fail to achieve is first a perception in our minds.

The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari
Robin Sharma
Harper Perennial: 1997
ISBN: 0006385125

This is an interesting story. It is a story of a lawyer who appears to have it all - the corner office, the life style, the cars, women, … Then he gives it all up and tours the East. While there he comes across this strange monk and monastery. He comes to live life in a much different way. Yet he is challenged by the monk who has trained him to go back home and share the message he has learned with the West. Julian, our main character, returns to his old law firm and to his protégé John. He tells him a parable; then the rest of the book explains the parable and how it relates to different aspects of our lives. The parable is rather simple and a little strange but as it is explained you will never forget it. Read it to find out how a garden, lighthouse, sumo wrestler, pink wire cable, stopwatch, roses and a winding path of diamonds are symbols of timeless principles and virtues by which to live your life. This book could help raise the quality of your life to a new level. There are now many books in the Monk series by Sharma. They are: The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, Leadership Wisdom From The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, Discover Your Destiny With The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, Family Wisdom From The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, The Saint, The Surfer & The CEO and more. I have not read them all but those I have are excellent.

In Conversation With God
Francis Fernandez Carvajal
7 Volume Set
Scepter Press
ISBN: 0906138191

This is an amazing Catholic meditation and daily reflection series. The seven volumes have daily readings for each day of the church year as well as volume 6 & 7 being special Feast Days. The readings draw heavily upon the writings of Josemaria Escriva the founder of Opus Dei, Pope John Paul II, and the daily readings from the common liturgy for that day. The Sundays have three sets of readings depending on if we are in year A, B, or C in the church readings. These devotions are all about 6 pages long and divided into 3 sections. They can be read all as a lump or part in the morning, midday and evening. I find that with every day there is so much meat in these devotions that I am already planning on reading them again next year. For full review and of links to reviews of each volume click here.

Each year I also make a list of favorite books and favorite authors and also a list of all books read. If you see something on that list not reviewed and would like it reviewed drop me a line. Also if you have some recommended reads let me know. I am always looking for more to read. So Rob, I hope that gives you some food for thought and some selections you will be interested in and I hope it will provide a variety of suggestions for readers of Imprint.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

CompTIA A+ Guide to Software Managing, Maintaining, and Troubleshooting Fourth Edition by: Jean Andrews

CompTIA A+ Guide to Software
Managing, Maintaining, and Troubleshooting

Fourth Edition

Jean Andrews
Thompson
ISBN 9780619217600


Even though the CompTIA A+ exam objectives changed in 2006 from the old version of hardware and software, that is still the way that most people teach and learn the material. Therefore, this book and its companion volume CompTIA A+ Guide to Hardware cover all the material for the exams 220-601 A+ Essentials, 220-602 A+ IT Technician, 220-603 A+ Remote Support Technician and 220-604 Depot Technician.

These books have a number of great features. First is the exam objective map in the front cover of each book. It maps the exam objectives for each of the four exams to the chapters in the books. The second is the side marks, on each page; there are either green or blue sidebars marking what part of the page is for what exam, or if it is not. (See Image) The extensive Appendixes in this book include:

o Appendix A How an OS Uses System Resources
o Appendix B Introducing Linux

o Appendix C the Mac OS
o Appendix D Support
ing Windows NT Workstation
o Appendix E CompTIA A+ Acronym

These are very helpful and really should be essential reading for certification exam prep. Both books also have an extensive glossary; each word that is in the glossary appears in blue in the text of the book. Now from here, the books become very different. This book comes with a supplemental CD with selftest software and other tools to help you in the course, and in an IT job. I keep all my Cert books in a shelf above my desk and reference at least 1 book a week.

The chapters covered in this book are:

1.Introducing Operating Systems
2.Installing Windows 2000/XP
3.Maintaining Windows 2000/XP
4.Supporting Windows 2000/XP User
s and Their Data
5.Troubleshooting Windows 2000/XP Startup
6.Windows 9x/ME Commands and Startup Disk

7.Supporting Windows 9x/ME
8.PCs on a Network
9.PCs on the Internet
10.Securing your PC and LAN
11.Supporting Printers and Scanners

12.The Professional PC Technician

This book will be the basis of almost any IT role you will pursue. It is a great tool for your IT tool box. The instructor's version of the book has a different CD and they can generate testbank questions based upon each chapter. There are also supplemental PowerPoints for each chapter and review question answer charts. In IT. it is essential to have three key skills: to be able to research, to have a strong network of contacts to draw upon, and to know how to troubleshoot. These books hammer home the key steps to troubleshooting and give a good start to being a good researcher. I have had a few friends do A+ at other schools or with different books and found that those books were lacking compared to these two. Other resources for you to draw upon are the CompTIA IT Pro forums, the CompTIA Facebook group, the CompTIA Certification site and the CompTIA LinkedIn groups.

(Here is a link to an article I wrote about the Certification Process and it has links to other cert book reviews.)

Note: The scans are from the Hardware book and are just samples.

Monday, 6 October 2008

CompTIA A+ Guide to Hardware Managing, Maintaining, and Troubleshooting Fourth Edition by: Jean Andrews

CompTIA A+ Guide to Hardware
Managing, Maintaining, and Troubleshooting

Fourth Edition

Jean Andrews
Thompson
ISBN 9780619217624


Even though the CompTIA A+ exam objectives changed in 2006 from the old version of hardware and software, that is still the way that most people teach and learn the material. Therefore, this book and its companion volume CompTIA A+ Guide to Software cover all the material for the exams 2
20-601 A+ Essentials, 220-602 A+ IT Technician, 220-603 A+ Remote Support Technician and 220-604 Depot Technician.

These books have a number of great features. First is the exam objective map in the front cover of each book. It maps the exam objectives for each of the four exams to the chapters in the books. The second is the side marks; on each page there are either green or blue sidebars marking what part of the page is for what exam, or if it is not. (See Image) The extensive Appendixes in this book include:

o Appendix A How an OS Uses System Resources
o Appendix B Electricity and Multimeters
o Appendix C Supporting SCSI and Legacy Devices
o Appendix D Disassembling a Notebook
o Appendix E CompTIA A+ Acronym

These are very helpful and really should be essential reading for certification exam prep. Both books also have an extensive glossary; each word that is in the glossary appears in blue in the text of the book. From there the books become very different. The CD that comes with this book includes the Course.com test software and the Certblaster test software, as well as a slew of other resources to help you. If however you are working on this by yourself, get the Instructors book. It is the same book but the CD has extra features like test generation software, textbook answer keys, and powerpoint presentations for each chapter.

The Chapters are:
1.Introducing Hardware
2.PC Repair Fundamentals
3.Form Factors and Power Supplies
4.Processors and Chipsets
5.Motherboards
6.Upgrading Memory
7.Hard Drives
8.Installing and Supporting I/O Devices
9.Multimedia Devices and Mass Storage
10.PCs on a Network
11.Notebooks, Tablet PCs, and PDAs
12.Supporting Printers and Scanners

I have seen two or three other A+ books that friends have used, and none are as well laid out or designed for learning as these two. I have gone back and referenced these books a number of times, and use them almost every week. Worth the investment in a good resource for your IT tool box. The best thing about IT is realizing that you cannot know it all. A good IT person knows how to troubleshoot, how to research, and continually builds a network or contacts that they can draw upon. These two books will teach the first and give you a good start on the second. Other resources for you to draw upon are the CompTIA IT Pro forums, the CompTIA Facebook group, the CompTIA Certification site and the CompTIA LinkedIn groups.

(Here is a link to an article I wrote about the Certification Process and it has links to other cert book reviews.)

Friday, 3 October 2008

Stargazer by: Patrick Carman

Stargazer
The Land of Elyon Book 4

Patrick Carman
Scholastic

ISBN 9780439899512


This is book four in the Land of Elyon trilogy. At the end of Into The Mist we leave Yipes, Roland and Alexa heading towards the five pillars community hidden out in the sea. Yet a great evil, defeated once, has followed them and desires to make this place its new home and its dominion. Abaddon is this gr
eat evil, and is full of a vehement hatred because of his defeat and the new form he has been forced to take. Abaddon has taken a form much like a great octopus, with scales of iron and enough spite to want to destroy the whole world. Stargazer begins right where Into the Mist leaves off. The book opens with the destruction of the Warwick Beacon, with Captain Roland Warvold going down with the ship.

Alexa must face a world without the
guidance and protection previously provided by the Brothers Warvold. She is in a strange place, where the rules and customs are unknown to her. Yet it is also a place of great adventure. Five stone pillars rise up out of the sea; the community living there resides on the first three. The first and shortest is for crops, the second has a freshwater lake on most of the surface, and the third is concave and has the most homes. The fourth is convex and is uninhabited, and finally, the fifth towers into the sky and the top is not known or visible to the inhabitants of the islands. They make their way from pillar to pillar by a series of rope bridges and slide down natural vines like zip-lines. And as much as Alexa would like to just explore this new place, Abaddon has informed her that he plans to destroy it, or make it his own. He is slowly eroding the fourth tower by tearing chucks from the stone, as it is the narrowest. They fear that it will topple into the third and cause a cascade effect.

Alexa is once again thrust into the middle of a great adventure, but an adventure
filled with the unknown and with mystery. She must find a way to save this new place she has just discovered. For the first time, she must do great things with only the help of Yipes, her friend small in stature but great in heart and will. But the lord of Elyon has even more in store for her than she can imagine. As she proceeds to try to discover a way out of this situation, she begins to see her own life path and purpose.

Patrick Carman ha
s been nominated for numerous book awards for this series, including winning the 2007 Lamplighter Award and the Cochecho Readers Award 2005-2006. This book lives up to that heritage or even exceeds it. So give the book a try - it is strong enough to read alone, but is also part of a great series.

Other of Patrick Carman Books:

The Dark Hills Divide - The Land of Elyon Book 1
Beyond the Valley of Thorns - The Land of Elyon Book 2

The Tenth City - The Land of Elyon Book 3
Into The Mist - The Land of Elyon Prequel
Stargazer - The Land of Elyon Book 4

The House of Power - Atherton Book 1
Rivers of Fire - Atherton, Book 2
The Dark Planet - Atherron Book 3

Saving Mr Nibbles
- Elliot's Park Book 1
Haunted Hike - Elliot's Park Book 2
The Walnut Cup - Elliot's Park Book 3
A Windy Tale - Elliot's Park Book 4

Skeleton Creek - Skeleton Creek Book 1 - A Prereview.
Ghost in the Machine - Skeleton Creek Book 2

Crossbones - Skeleton Creek Book 3
The Raven - Skeleton Creek Book 4

The Black Circle
- 39 Clues Book 5


Trackers #1

Thirteen Days to Midnight

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Mmmm Guinness Goodness

Guinness GUINNESS Kule Kube Refrigerator

I've been known to tip a few pints, from time to time. And I have a preference for Guinness or almost anything not American or Canadian. But this fridge would sit so nicely in the corner of my den. I could stock it with my favorites:

Guinness
Double Diamond
Bah Humbug
Boddingtons
Hobgoblin
Black Wych
Fiddler's Elbow
Smithwicks
Kilkenny
Tetley's
Alexander Keith's Amber

Hat tip to:

Video meliora, proboque; Deteriora sequor

Eric Scheske at The Daily Eudemon